by Doy Moyer
God’s people had been sent into exile because of their failure to keep the covenant. While in Babylonian exile, what should have been the attitude of the exiles generally?
Jeremiah sent a letter to those in exile: “to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon” (Jeremiah 29:1). In this letter, Jeremiah told them to build houses, plant gardens, get married, and have children. He told them not to decrease, but to increase and “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
God’s people should always be a blessing to the world in which we live. We should be a blessing to our neighbors, to our community, to our city and nation. We know this world is not home, that we seek the heavenly country, and that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21; Hebrews 11:13-16). At the same time, we need to seek the welfare of this place of exile. Love your neighbor. Pray for those in power (I Timothy 2:1-2). Use any freedoms you have to glorify God and bless those around you.
You don’t have to agree with the people of this world to seek their welfare. You don’t have to become enmeshed in political scheming and mudslinging to pray for the leaders, no matter what their views might be.
If God’s people in exile could seek the welfare of Babylon, that city that came to stand for all that is against God, then surely Christians can seek the welfare of this world today. It doesn’t mean condoning sin. It doesn’t mean compromising God’s truth. It does mean that we show ourselves to be reasonable, gentle, and reflect the longsuffering of God who seeks the salvation of all.
Do what is right. Love your neighbors. Seek the welfare of the city where you live and await the final day of the revelation of Jesus Christ.